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Tarnished credit reports costing job applicants

For those who have been doing their best to find employment after being fired or laid off in our still-struggling economy, having to deal with credit trouble, be it recent or long-standing, can be especially difficult. Debt trouble and a damaged credit trouble not only raises the stakes of landing a new position-it can also make securing fresh employment far more challenging.

A senior policy analyst from the Society for Human Resource Management recently noted that almost half of all employers, including many in Florida, routinely check an applicant's credit rating during the hiring process. In these cases, errors such as chronically late payments and loan defaults can come back to haunt someone, costing them a job they may otherwise have been well-qualified for.

This can lead to a frustrating situation: at times errors such as another person's debt mistakenly charged to your credit card, or even charges made in a case of identity theft, can linger on a credit report and make finding a new job all the more difficult.

Currently eight states have passed restrictions on employers who would otherwise check an applicant's credit report before deciding whether or not to hire, and a number of states (in which Florida is unfortunately not included) have pending legislation that, if passed, would also restrict the involvement of personal credit in the job search.

All those who may be worried about whether their credit history could cost them a new job should keep in mind that the Fair Credit Reporting Act demands that prospective employers must notify applicants in advance if they plan to take a look at their credit report.

Even if a person has taken deliberate steps to set their financial life on the road to solvency and prosperity, past debt problems can potentially put a new job out of their reach. Working with an attorney versed in debt relief and bankruptcy law can take some of the guess-work out of the road to renewed credit health, and could make the difference in a future job interview.

Source: CBS News, "Bad credit ratings sinking job hunters," Kathy Kristof, Feb. 6, 2013

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